Category Archives: Music Reviews

Favorite EP’s/Singles of 2020

It’s my favorite time of year when I get go back through all the records released in 2020 that I listened to and put together a list of my favorites to share. This year I had so many albums to share that I had to create two lists. One for EP’s and singles and one for full-length releases. I’ve included Bandcamp links where they were available. I think each of these releases is worth a listen. Go check out some new tunes! Enjoy. 

Honorable Mentions
Coma City – When All Else Fails
Arkhtinn – Astrophobia
Refused – The Malignant Fire

40. Purplish – Into The Future

Shoegaze –

39. Goddamnit/Traverse – Split

Punk –

38. Liberandos – Cool Your Jets

Indie/Punk –

37. Virginity – Death At The Party

Emo/Punk –

36. Relegation – Thousand Dead Trees

Hardcore –


35. Overgrow – Hear Your Voice Again


Emo/Indie Pop –


34. Phavors – Petals

Dream Pop –

33. Death At Intervals – We’re Inside The Foxglove

Post Hardcore/Emo –

32. Fang Fang – Fang Shui

Rock –

31. Corduroy Moon – Gone For the Weekend

Indie Pop –

30. Scale and Feather – Chasms

Post Rock/Post Metal –

29. KYOTY – Eliora bat Avraham v’ Sarah

Post Metal –

28. Ghosting – Mini EP

Emo –

27. Rain of Salvation – In Times of Desperation

Hardcore –

26. Slow Disco – Super Slow Disco

Emo –

25. Puzzle – Nothing But Rain

Post Rock –

24. Black Rat – New Start

Punk –

23. – Catbite/Omnigone – Split

Ska/Punk –

22. Vekora – EP2

Alternative/Indie Rock –

21. To Be Gentle/sowithout – septemberthirteenthtwentytwenty

Screamo –

20. A Place In Prague – Contact High

Emo –

19. The Third Project – Tractopelle

Post Hardcore/Post Metal –

18. Overo/Asthenia – Split

Screamo/Emo –

17. Naru – The Falling Moon

Indie/Dream Pop/Emo ––2

16. Mornifle – Mornifle

Post Metal/Post Rock –

15. Venezia Rojo Shocking – Playful

Indie Rock –

14. Left Neglect – Children

Alternative/Indie Rock –

13. Ammonia Wash – Erasure Poems

Shoegaze/Emo –

12. Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh – Operation Take Over

Nu Metal 

11.Hammock – Into the Blank / Madi

Ambient –

10. Every Light Goes Out – Every Light Goes Out

Post Rock –

9. Aches – Dead Youth

Post Hardcore –

8. Spotlights – We Are All Atomic

Post Metal –

7. Starflyer 59 – Miami

Indie Rock –

6. Glimmers – Cluttered Heart

Emo/Indie Pop –

5. Maggie Gently – Good Cry

Indie/Singer Songwriter –

4. The Beautiful Mistake – You Are Not Broken. I Am

Post Hardcore/Emo –

3. Fake Eyes – A Drip Is All We Know

Post Hardcore/Space Rock –

2. – Death Tapes – Preface

Screamo –

1. Hopesfall – Hall Of The Sky

Post Hardcore/Space Rock

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Top 30 of 2018

2018 take 2

Honorable Mentions:
Dashboard Confessional – Crooked Shadows
Nanami Ozone – Alone Too/3 Mile Drive
Envy – Alnair in August
Burning House – Tracer
Long Neck – Will This Do?
Doe – Grow Into It
Young Scum – Young Scum
Double Grave – Empty Hands
Damien Jurado – The Horizon Just Laughed
Camp Cope – How To Socialise & Make Friends
Open – Sudden Terrors
Deadens – Queen/Underflow
Infant Island – Infant Island
Michael Cera Palin – I Don’t Know How To Explain It
Clearance – At Your Liesure
Sollunar – Formation
awakebutstillinbed – what people call low self-esteem is really just seeing yourself the way that other people see you
Sleeping Giant – I Am

30: The Mighty Mighty Bosstones – While We’re At It

Ska: The skacore legends return with their first album new album in 7 years.

29: Mouse On Keys – Tres
Instrumental: Tres is an almost slow jazz version of post rock.

28: Jeff Rosenstock – Post-
Punk: Rosenstock dropped Post- on New Years day. The album almost reminds me of early Green Day.

27: Mxpx – Mxpx

Punk: Mxpx doing Mxpx things and giving us another gem!

26: Foxhole – Well Kept Thing
Post Rock: Foxhole’s first new music in 12 years is easily their best. And it’s now a Grammy nominated record!

25: Wild Pink – Yolk In The Fur
Indie Folk: Yolk In The Future is a more matured and full vision of what Wild Pink showcased on their self-titled debut. Just a warm record.

24: Illuminati Hotties – Kiss Yr Frenemies
Power Pop: 1. Illuminati Hotties is an A+ band name. 2. Kiss Yr Frenemies is full of catchy pop tunes!

23: Giraffes? Giraffes! – Memory Lame
Math Rock: Memory Lame feels like a collaboration between Don Cab and Battles with more chaos thrown in.

22: Scrunchies – Stunner
Punk: Stunner has an old school feel to it that I love.

21: Saves the Day – 9

Punk/Emo: Some people complained about the lyrical content of 9, and I get it, but the vibe of the record is fun and self aware and it fits perfectly in Saves the Day’s catalog.

20: Hammock – Universalis
Ambient: Another beautiful record from Hammock.

19: El Ten Eleven – Banker’s Hill
Post Rock: El Ten Eleven always delivers a unique spin to post rock with the way they use loops. Banker’s Hill my favorite record they’ve released since 2007’s Every Direction Is North.

18: Lifted Bells – Minor Tantrums
Math Rock/Emo: The Bob Nanna project returns with its most mathy and technical effort to date.

17: Thrice – Palms
Post Hardcore/Emo: I didn’t instantly connect with Palms the same way I have previous Thrice albums, but once it clicked, I feel in love.

16: CHVRCHES – Love Is Dead

Pop/Electronic: Why I have not listened to CHVRCHES before? Definitely a worthwhile listen.

15: The Out Circuit – Enter The Ghost
Ambient/Indie: Nearly 11 years between records will shift your sound, for sure. The Out Circuit follows up a post hardcore masterpiece with a more ambient approach and it’s still just as brilliant.

14: Fine China – Not Thrilled

New Wave: So many bands returned in 2018 to deliver their best new music in years and Fine China was no exception. Not Thrilled has the band’s catchiest tunes yet.

13: Foxing – Nearer My God
Emo/Indie: One of the staples of the emo revival stepped out their comfort zone to deliver their best record yet.

12: Pohgoh – Secret Club
Emo: Pohgoh returns with their first album in 21 years.

11: Hop Along – Bark Your Head Off, Dog
Indie Rock/Singer Songwriter: How Simple alone was going to have Bark Your Head Off, Dog on my list. Lots of great pop songs delivered with Frances Quinlan’s cutting vocal delivery.

10: Cursive – Vitriola
Emo/Post Hardcore: Cursive returns with a harder edge. I didn’t hate their more arty work but it didn’t connect the same way as their early material. Vitriola comes back with that youthful aggression.

9: Pool Kids – Music To Practice Safe Sex To
Emo: If you like 90’s American Football, Braid, Cap n Jazz, this album is for you!

8: Good Game – Good Luck Have Fun
Math Rock: Stumbled across this record accidentally and was an instant fan. Great noodlely guitar work with lots of starts and stops.

7: Death Cab For Cutie – Thank You For Today
Indie Rock: I’m not sure what Death Cab would need to do for me to not love a record they put out.

6: Restorations – LP5000
Post Hardcore: I’m only just getting on the Restorations bandwagon but LP5000 was a perfect record to hear first!

5: mewithoutYou – [Untitled]
Post Hardcore: I have yet to fully take in mewithoutYou’s latest record. There’s a lot of interesting and complex lyrical themes to dive into and all the vocal and musical layers. On it’s face, it’s a fantastic record.

4: Deafheaven – Ordinary Corrupt Human Love
Black Metal/Shoegaze: I really wasn’t prepared for the beautiful moments of Ordinary Corrupt Human Love. Deafheaven stepped up their game big time!

3: Pianos Become The Teeth – Wait For Love
Post Hardcore/Emo: Pianos Become The Teeth took the shift in sound from 2014’s Keep You and improved upon the more melodic elements. Great hooks on Wait For Love.

2: In Parallel – Broken Codes
New Wave/Shoegaze: Somewhere where Joy Division meets Nine Inch Nails and Depeche Mode, you’ll find In Parallel. Broken Codes is brooding and beautiful.

1: Hopesfall – Arbiter

Post Hardcore: Hopesfall returned with a perfect follow-up to Magnetic North. It would’ve been a perfect follow-up to The Satellite Years. The way the band blended the atmospheric and spacey side of their sound with the heavy, works perfectly. And Jay has never sounded better on vocals. A perfect record start to finish!

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Lawn – Blood On The Tracks

Release Date: 5/11/2018
Label: Forged Artifacts

Between Bandcamp and the rebirth of the cassette, it seems like a golden age to be a bedroom pop artist. Well crafted, lo-fi indie pop lends itself perfectly to the cassette medium. There have been a ton of great releases over the last few years. The most recent to hit my ears was the new LP from New Orleans band Lawn.

Blood On The Tracks is hook laden post punk. Fugazi with White Album sensibilities. Or maybe it’s more White Album with Fugazi sensibilities. Lawn blurs the line between pop and post punk that at times it doesn’t always feel like the same band. But other times they combine the two so flawlessly that you see the band’s vision clearly.

The first three songs on the record really showcase and highlight Lawn’s versatility and vision. The album opener, 2000 Boy, is pure pop perfection. A perfect summer time playlist song. It’s a song fit for mass-produced Spotify playlists and public radio themed playlists (I’m looking at you Rosewave). Just as the pop induced coma sets in, Lawn hits you with the Pixies esque Rat. Rat hits you with groove heavy guitar and bass lines, striking quick hits, punctuating the melody. And of the two first tracks on the album, Rat has the more memorable hook. But the band puts it all together for the title track, Blood on the Tracks. It instantly reminded me of Fugazi songs like Recap Modotti and Sweet and Low. It’s a punk song infused with pop to drive home a point. Again, it’s not pop in any conventional sense of the word but you will find yourself singing the chorus days later.

Lather, rinse, repeat. Pop songs like Making Friends, Vinnie, Clank, and Jackson are interspersed between great punk tracks like My Boy, Restless and Tired (on of my favorites on the album), Hips, and Diets. Lawn gives you the full range of what they do all at once. Which makes me wonder if they should have gone the Modern Baseball route and cut the album differently. With a cassette release the ability to have the pop tracks on one side and punk on the other makes sense.

On the other hand, I appreciate Lawn crafting a record that keeps you on your toes and is giving you the whole range of the band top to bottom. This isn’t a record you can preview 30 seconds of and decide if you love or hate it. You have to sit and digest the songs. You get to be surprised by what comes next.

Between the gritty punk spirit and the beautifully crafted pop tunes, Blood on the Tracks is a must listen, but you have to listen! Or you might miss a hidden gem!

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Favorite Records of 2017

Honorable Mentions:
Slowdive – Slowdive
Demon Hunter – Outlive
The Movielife – Cities In Search Of A Heart
Frail Hands – Frail Hands
Golden Streets Of Paradise – World War (Re-release)
Cayetana – New Kind Of Normal
Heat – Overnight
Ratboys – GN
SNST – Turn Out The Lights
Sollunar – I & II
Smidley – Smidley
Sinai Vessel – Brokenlegged
Shallov – Concrete & Glass
Hundred Suns – The Prestaliis
Circa Survive – The Amulet
Rozwell Kids – Precious Art
How Water Music – Light It Up
Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Luciferian Towers
Brand New – Science Fiction

30.Benjamin Gibbard – Bandwagonesque

We have to wait until 2018 for the new Death Cab For Cutie record, but 2017 gave us frontman Ben Gibbard covering Teenage Fanclub’s Bandwagonesque. And it’s glorious!

29. People Like You – Verse

One of many excellent releases from Topshelf Records this year. Emo/Indie/Jazz/Classical fusion that just works!

28. Comeback Kid – Outsider

One of the few heavy records that caught my attention this year. Comeback Kid has always been in a league of their own. Outsider sees the band take a slight metal turn.

27. Del Paxton – All Day, Every Day, All Night

New wave emo revival at it’s finest!

26. Football, Etc. – Corner

In its simplicity Corner is full of catchy melodies and hooks. Reminds me of the mid-90’s emo scene without sounding like a knock-off.

25. Land Of Talk – Life After Youth

I saw Land Of Talk open for American Football and was blown away.I picked up Life After You that night.

24. Minus The Bear – Voids

My favorite Minus the Bear record since their debut, Highly Refined Pirates. Worth a buy for Call the Cops alone!

23. Racquet Club – Racquet Club

The new project from Blair Shehan picks up right where The Jealous Sound left off, injecting a little bit of Knapsack’s punk attitude.

22. Jeremy Enigk – Ghosts

We waited 8 years for Ghosts and it was worth it! Jeremy Enigk never disappoints.

21. Julien Baker – Turn Out The Lights

On her sophomore record, Julien Baker adds a richness to her sad songs. It’s still simple and heartfelt but the added lushness to the soundscape provides a warmth that you didn’t know Baker’s music was missing.

20. Prawn – Run

Prawn’s third full-length is an epic masterpiece. The band continues to expand and build on their brand of emo. One of the best bands to come out of the emo revival!

19. Echo Lad – Echo Lad

The best record you didn’t know existed this year! Philadelphia’s Echo Lad delivered pure gold on their math rock infused debut LP.

18. Mastodon – Emperor Of Sand

Having finally gotten over wanting to hear Crack the Skye part 2, I was finally able to enjoy a new Mastodon record.

17. Quicksand – Interiors

Quicksand’s first new record in 22 years did not disappoint.

16. Lights – Skin & Earth

Lights is a pop powerhouse. Skin & Earth didn’t get the recognition it deserves, as Lights never does, but this is what pop music should be!

15. Oso Oso – The Yunahon Mixtape

Reindeer Games has been my favorite song of the year ever since the Yunahon Mixtape released in January.

14. Gingerlys – Gingerlys

Power pop at it’s finest. A late year release that deserves your attention!

13. Eisley – I’m Only Dreaming

I’ve been a huge Eisley fan since the band was originally Moss Eisley. Even with some restructuring and member changes, Sherri Bemis’ voice shines and keeps the band moving forward.

12. Diet Cig- Swear I’m Good At This

Diet Cig’s Alex Luciano is what a ball of energy in human form looks like. Power pop meets punk rock.

11. Sorority Noise – You’re Not As ___ As You Think

The emotion and heartache that comes through on every single song makes Sorority Noise’s third full-length an absolute gem.

10. The Menzingers – After The Party

After The Party is a record for all of us aging punks! “Where are we gonna go now that our 20’s are over?”

9. Tigers Jaw – Spin

Admittedly, this is my first time giving a Tigers Jaw record a spin (no pun intended) and I love it!

8. At The Drive-In – Inter Alia

Tons of great reunion records this year. At The Drive-In’s return was the one I was most concerned about but the band delivered a return to form! No Mars Volta hangover here!

7. Lo Tom – Lo Tom

David Bazan making a rock record with Jason Martin sounded in good in real life as it did on paper. Great to hear Bazan’s voice over guitars again!

6. Able Baker Fox – Visions

Able Baker Fox deliver a dose of post hardcore nostalgia.

5. Pet Symmetry – Vision

Evan Weiss does not release bad records. Vision is fun. I saw Pet Symmetry live and they were having more fun then any band I’ve seen recently. Catchy catchy rock and roll!

4. Charly Bliss – Guppy

Charly Bliss took everything good about post grunge alternative and infused it with upbeat pop hooks and the result is an sugary infectious record that’s love at first listen.

3. Rainer Maria – Rainer Maria

Rainer Maria’s first new record in 11 years is full of blistering riffs from Kaia Fischer, carried by William Kuehn holding it down on the drums, and of course Caithlin De Marrais’ soaring vocals. They sound refreshed and like they have a lot of life left!

2. Wild Ones – Mirror Touch

I picked up a Topshelf Records subscription this year and while the label released great music all year, the gem of their 2017 catalog is electro pop act Wild One’s Mirror Touch. The record is catchy as hell and each song has a unique element that keeps you on your toes.

1. Paramore – After Laughter

Paramore just straight up makes good records. Everything since Riot has been a solid album of the year contender. Change of sound and style doesn’t matter. The songs are all hits!

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Favorite EP’s/7″‘s from 2017

There was a TON of great music in 2017. I personally listened to 168 new release this year. And I had 70 records competing for my Top 30 favorite albums. So this year, for the first time, I have a separate list just for EP’s and 7″ records.

Honorable Mentions:
Petal – Comfort
Strengthen What Remains – 2017 Promo
Teen Divorce – Almost Heaven
Zao – Pyrrhic Victory
Household/Infinite Me – Split

15. Colder Planets – Sad Nature

Sad Nature is 3 songs of Rainer Maria inspired twinkly slow jams.

14. The East – Lipstick & Moonshine

The two songs from Italian emo outfit The East are soaring anthems that excite me for more music from the group.

13. Blind Lion – Spring

Spring was the third ep from Blind Lion in their seasons series (Bummed we never got the Summer ep) and it was easily the best of the series.

12. No Vacation – Intermission

California surf rock meets dream pop.

11. Madison Minor – The Not So Evil Robot

The second of three ep’s released by Australia’s Madison Minor is full of upbeat, 2000’s style emocore. RIYL Hawthorne Heights

10. Lightcliffe – Mistakes I Seem to Make

London’s Lightcliffe released 2 songs earlier this year that remind of American Football, if American Football was a straight forward rock band.

9. Hands – New Heaven/New Earth

It’s nice to see Shane Ochsner go a little heavier this time around. And it’s nice to have another Hand’s 7″.

8. Expert Timing – Selective Hearing

Expert Timing falls somewhere between power pop and emo. The songs are hook driven pop gems!

7. Dear Seattle – Dear Seattle

Hook driven rock that sounds like Nirvana inspired emo.

6. Better Than Mending – Treatments

One of two ep’s released by UK post hardcore band Better Than Mending. This is the more melodic of the two records. Both are worth your time!

5. For Everest/Carb On Carb – Split

For Everest follows up last year’s brilliant We Are At Home In The Body with two fantastic songs on this split. They teamed up with New Zealand’s Carb on Carb.

4. Citysick – Thanks For Trying

Thanks For Trying came out in January and remained one of my favorite ep’s throughout the year.

3. Old State – Weight

Old State is carrying the torch of bands like Thursday and Thrice. Beautiful quiet, introspective moments that explode into full-throated screaming emotion.

2. Glacier Veins – Dreamspace

Glacier Veins was my love at first listen band last year. An artist not to miss. They had to albums on my favorite releases list. This year they signed with Common Ground Records and released a fantastic ep called Dreamspace. This band has yet to disappoint me.

1. Baggage – The Good That Never Comes

A band from Michigan writing about how Flint has been left for dead and donating all the proceeds of that album to get clean water to citizens in Flint. Oh, and the songs will blow you away. Baggage just opened for Jimmy Eat World! This ep is incredible and blew me away instantly.

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Household/Infinite Me – Split

Somewhere between Thursday, Hopesfall, Strongarm, Shai Hulud, and the like, you find Household. The band has been shifting their sound slowly and that shift continues onto their new split with Infinite Me. Time Spent saw the band shift away from the melodic hardcore sound of their debut to a more post-hardcore/Thursday style sound. The band has always encompassed the hardcore/punk roots of emo, so it makes their further shift in sound for this split ep unsurprising. We’ll see if it’s just for this ep or if it’s a long term change in direction for the band. The 3 tracks that encompass the first half of the split, Distant Truth 1,2, & 3, play as one long song. Vocal issues for vocalist Josh Gilbert have transitioned the band away from screaming, but in my opinion his singing voice is even better than his screaming voice. You can hear the band’s raw hardcore roots in the music of Distant Truth Pt 1, which was never fully “hardcore” anyway. The band taps into that DC hardcore/punk vein that keeps on giving. When the music breaks and Gilbert sings “I found this out too late for love” you hear a glimpse of Underoath. The band hasn’t lost their edge. Although the progression of the song/3 tracks softens with each change. Pt 2 still chugs along but takes a more punk/emo turn. Pt 3 finds the band shifting into a groove inspired indie rock sound. And yet even in that vein, the riff still reminds me of the band’s hardcore roots. While vocals have shifted, musically Household taps into the same sound that has guided them since With Or Without.

Because of the sonic shifts, you almost don’t notice when Infinite Me’s side of the split kicks in. Sharing a home of state of Minnesota with Household, the emo/grunge act compliments Household perfectly on this split. I might even say their half of the split outshines Household. The quiet/loud component of Infinite Me’s music is some weird combination of Dinosaur Jr, Failure, and early Sunny Day Real Estate. It might be a tough combo to wrap your head around but sonically it makes sense when you hear the fuzzed out guitars of Rot With Me or the driving bass of Follow You. Infinite Me is the definition of emo but they clearly wear their other influences on their sleeve. The 3 songs on this split made me hit up the band’s Bandcamp page and download their back catalog. This is your new favorite band.

A new sound for an old favorite and a new band to fall in love with. This Household/Infinite Me split is perfect! 5 out of 5 Stars.

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Top 30 of 2016

It’s that time of the year again where we focus on what was excellent! It’s time for my favorite 30 records of 2016. I could say “best of” but let’s be honest, this is just a list of what I loved. And I missed or just didn’t get around to listening to a lot of records this year. I listened to just about 120 records in 2016 and yet still missed new records from Every Time I Die, Dillinger Escape Plan, Metallica, Chevelle, Russian Circles, Killswitch Engage, Dinosaur Jr, Conor Obesrt, and a host of others. And yet I will declare that 2016 was a great year for music. Way better than 2015! New labels like Ronald Records and Broken World Media had impressive releases all year and some heavy hitting vets released some of their greatest work at date. Plus, the rise and ease of finding music on Bandcamp opened up a whole world of great new unsigned talent from around the world. So without further jibber jabber, let’s do this!

Honorable mentions:
Feel Better – Feel Better
Matter of Time – An Honest Shot In The Dark
Blacksmith – Fall/Apart
No Better – Forget Me Not
Body Origami – Thermal Blue
Ethan Luck – Record Store Day Digital 45″
Mildura – With Change
To Live As Sons – beaten.broken.alive
Circle of Dust – Machines Of Our Disgrace
Heavenfaced – To Keep You Safe

30. Quieter – From Me To You
I was a fan of Quieter from the moment I heard their debut ep Won’t Call Back. The bands brand of emo, which they self describe as “jock emo,” harkens back to the early 90’s where emo blurred the line with punk and hardcore. Bands like Boys Life, Thursday, Texas Is The Reason, Rites of Spring, and Brand New come to mind while listening to Quieter. Tracks like Fall Semester and Still Throwing Shades are two of my favorites from From Me To You.

29. Hypoluxo – If Language
Hypoluxo is what I imagine Joy Division would have sounded like if Ian Curtis hadn’t taken his life and the band was inspired by the shoegaze movement. If Language is full of British inspired indie rock and the vocals fall somewhere between Ian Curtis and Matt Berninger of The National.

28. Joyce Manor – Cody
Long Beach punkers Joyce Manor can write a solid hook. Songs like Eighteen, Last Your Heard Of Me, Make Me Dumb, and Stairs are instant attention grabbers. Fans of Saves The Day will love Cody!

27. Nerve Clinic – Feel Better
Feel Better is feel good rock and roll. Hook driven, four on the floor, upbeat rock and roll! A perfect ep!

26. Honey – Better Luck Next Year
The opening track to Better Luck Next Year is a jangly indie rock tune about Halloween that includes brilliant lyrics like “I want to watch the Evil Dead and let it scare me.” Think Rainer Maria and Earlimart

25. Hope For The Dying – Legacy
Legacy is another gem in Hope For The Dying’s already stacked catalog! One of the best current metal acts!

24. Ivadell – For The Birds

Ivadell followed up last year’s brilliant Maybe Tomorrow with another ep full of emo goodness. The hook on Lavendar Mind is easily the best thing the band has written yet.

23. Owen – The King of Whys
Even though I love Mike Kinsella, I had never gotten into Owen. But something about The King of Whys clicked with me. It’s a beautiful collection of well crafted, heartfelt songs.

22. Toy Maker – Boy Kings
Boy Kings is another record that reminds you of that connection emo has to hardcore. Toy Maker makes the type of music that makes me fall in love with music again. The music is mathy and melodic while the emotive, yelled vocals add to the band’s depth. One of my favorite discoveries this year!

21. Balance and Composure – Light We Made

In the early 2000’s, British new wave made its mark on mainstream music once again. Light We Made took that hook driven, dancey vibe and darkened it with punk attitude!

20. Glacier Veins – Clear Your Head

Glacier Veins was my 2016 obsession. Best new band of 2016, without a doubt! Clear Your Head is full of fun punk inspired emo. As a huge fan of Denali, Pohgoh, and Rocking Horse Winner, Clear Your Head was an instant hit for me!

19. Friends In Theory – Friends In Theory

Sweden’s Friend In Theory’s self-titled ep explodes out of your speakers the moment you hit play on the record. It it the band’s self-described pop songs for rock kids or my description of angst ridden, sugary rock tracks, the ep is perfect!

18. Milemarker – Overseas

2016 brought us the return of Milemarker! Devo for a new generation? Maybe. Sadly, I didn’t see Overseas on a lot of “best of” lists, which I think means this record was missed. Sure, the record is a little quirky, but it’s also one hell of a catchy post punk/new wave record.

17. Nothing – Tired Of Tomorrow

Fever Queen, Tired of Tomorrow’s opener, might be my favorite song of 2016. The song never fails to bring a smile to my face. Tired of Tomorrow is shoegaze perfection!

16. Deer Leap – Impermanence

It was almost an accident that I discovered Deer Leap, but man am I glad I did. If any album reminds me of classic, late 90’s emo, it’s Impermanence. A modern classic!

15. Face to Face – Protection

Punk icon’s Face to Face returned with one of their catchiest records to date! Punk perfection.

14. For Everest – We Are At Home In The Body

Sometimes upbeat and punk but often times reflective, We Are At Home In The Body is one of those records that surprised me. The dueling male/female vocals are fantastic! Pure pop goodness!

13. Zao – The Well-Intentioned Virus

All hail metalcore Legends Zao! The Well-Intentioned Virus is a hard-hitting instant classic in a discography that isn’t short on classics!

12. Everything In Slow Motion – Laid Low

Between Hands and Everything In Slow Motion, Shane Ochsner has been at the helm of some of my favorite records over the last 5 years. Laid Low might be more rock oriented but it’s some of Shane’s most intricate and compelling work to date!

11. Glacier Veins/Quieter – Relationship Goals
Did I mention I was obsessed with Glacier Veins this year? I love Quieter’s songs on this split, but the moment I heard “It’s Best If We Run” I fell head over heels for Glacier Veins!

10. Anthony Green – Pixie Queen

So many records I picked up on a whim this year that blew me away. Pixie Queen is a true gem. I love Circa Survive (and I enjoyed Green’s return to Saosin) but Pixie Queen is the first time I’ve been blown away by Green’s songwriting ability.

9. Danae – Direction
I’m a sucker for great pop music and Danae had the best pop record I heard all year.

8. Comrades – Lone/Grey

I’ve been a fan of Comrades for a long time and Lone/Grey is easily the band’s most impressive work to date. I’m glad Facedown picked the band up and have given them a bigger platform!

7. American Football – American Footbal (LP2)

After 17 year American Football returned and it was every bit as good as I hoped it would be!The band followed up one of my all time favorite emo records with another gem.

6. Say Anything – I Don’t Think It Is
I only gave I Don’t Think It Is a listen out of curiosity and I’m glad I did. The collaboration between Max Bemis and Darren King is brilliant!

5. Into It. Over It. – Standards
It took nearly a dozen listens before I truly started to click with Standards and I’ve only grown to love the record more and more with each listen. From the mathy rhythms of No EQ and Required Reading to the slow jams of Your Lasting Image and Old Lace & Ivory, Standards is compelling through and through.

4. Thrice – To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere

Thrice returned from hiatus and delivered what I believe is their best record to date.

3. Jimmy Eat World – Integrity Blues

Jimmy Eat World has been one of my favorite bands ever since I first heard Clarity in 99. And while I love each record the band has put out, Integrity Blues hits a lot of the same spots that Clarity first did. It feels fresh and inspired.

2. Field Mouse – Episodic

From the first notes of Episodic, I know that this was a special record. Shrugging off the dream pop/shoegaze of Hold Still Life, Field Mouse created an album full of new wave inspired power pop jams on Episodic.

1. The Hotelier – Goodness
I don’t even know where to start with Goodness. This was my favorite record of the year from the first time I hit play. This is what the emo revival is all about. Being inspired by something old and making it your own.

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House of Heroes – Colors

Many years ago I had a co-worker, who used to be a drug addict, explain that the first time you get high on cocaine is other worldly. It’s great. But every time after that first time is a letdown and you keep chasing and chasing that initial high, only to never get it again.

6 years ago House of Heroes released Suburba and I became an instant fan. I dove in to the band’s back catalog and have waited for each new release. But I still feel like I’ve been chasing the high I got from hearing Suburba for the time. (See, my crazy drug story had a point)

To use a tired cliché, Colors is a raucous rock & roll record. Yes, that’s lazy ass writing on my part. But it fits the record. And honestly, I’ve struggled to find words to adequately describe Colors. Because let’s be honest, it would be much easier to write a review of Colors if I wasn’t a fan of House of Heroes. But a personal connection and expectation colors (no pun intended) the way you view and listen to music. And when I try to step back and detach my personal expectations, I find a really great rock & roll record.

Which leads me to say, Colors does not feed my personal House of Heroes high. But it comes close. (What is it missing? A Song like God Save Us The Foolish Kings)

House of Heroes give us a big bombastic anthem to kick off Colors. Colors Run is a mid-tempo jam that feels both part ballad and part arena rock song. It’s a great “classic” rock type song. Rat is one of those punk infused songs that House of Heroes always seems to deliver with ease.

On a number of tracks is feels like House of Heroes was going for a huge sound. The riffs and drums on Pioneer, Feel, and Matador all hit on the same note and feel over compressed to create this enormous wall of sound. Even the bridges of God and Crash, relatively low-key songs, the wall of sound makes an appearance. House of Heroes pulls it off and scatters it throughout the record so it doesn’t feel like you’re being beaten over the head by a giant wall of guitars.

We Make Our Stars is a beautiful little ballad. In The End, Shots Fired, and Get Away are about as stripped down as I can ever remember hearing House of Heroes get. The band lulls you into thinking they’re closing he record on the lighter side before the four on the floor of Colors Die Out hit. Colors Die Out is another one of those classic rock anthems. They bookend the record nicely and if you ask me both the album’s opener and closer are the highlights of the record.

There’s a lot I like about Colors. It’s an enjoyable listen, when you’re just listening. When I got critical it seemed to not have the same punch as it did when I just put the record on in my car and drove around jamming to it. So take that for what you will. And even though it doesn’t fulfill this musical need I have from House of Heroes, it’s still a great record. 4.5 our 5 Stars.

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Field Mouse – Episodic

“What a way to say fuck off.”

It’s more than the first line of the first song on Field Mouse’s stellar new record, Episodic. It’s almost like a statement from the band. The Mirror might actually be quite disarming to longtime fans of the band and their shoegaze sound. The upbeat, hella catchy dance number is almost a challenge to the hipsters to try and not enjoy themselves. It’s also anthemic! It’s an easy line to attach yourself to and I imagine it will be shouted by audiences at the band’s upcoming shows. Aside from the opening line of the record, The Mirror is a fun song. It gets me dancing every time. Rachel Browne’s vocals remind me of Jenny Lewis and the Mirror sounds like what I always wished Rilo Kiley sounded like. It’s the perfect album opener.

And yes, Field Mouse puts their best foot forward with The Mirror. But they follow it up with step after step of great song after great song. I’ve seen people comment that the album still nods at their shoegaze past, but to my ears, Field Mouse has moved past that sound. The fuzzed out guitars punctuate the bands indie pop choruses. Take the track A Widow With A Terrible Secret. The verse is a jaunty light pop track until the guitars fully kick in on the chorus and the song explodes into a power pop ballad. Sure the guitars have an almost shoegaze airy quality to them but to label it as shoegaze almost robs the track of it’s power.

Half-life follows The Mirror. It’s got a great synth line on the verse that helps give the verse a club vibe before the band rips into the chorus. Power pop is the name of the game! The Order of Sings is a beautifully clean indie pop song.

Browne’s vocals soar through the dynamic and melodic changes on Beacon, becoming the star of the track. Beacon seamlessly transitions into Over and Out, which is all sorts of sugary pop goodness. On the surface, the song sounds simple, but put on a pair of headphones and you pick up small riffs flying in and out or a moment of feedback that highlights a moment in the song. Do You Believe Me Now is a fantastic, straight forward rock and roll song that has a chorus that reminds me of mid-90’s post grunge rock. Out Of Context closes the record with some Sonic Youth esque feedback as the track slowly unwinds and brings Episodic to an end.

There are no flaws on Episodic. From upbeat pop tunes to dark indie rock songs that give the band “street cred”, Field Mouse has crafted an album full of brilliant songs. Perfect start to finish and very easily jumped to the top of my Album of the Year list. 5 out of 5 Stars!

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Glacier Veins – Clear Your Head

Glacier Veins - Clear Your Head - cover
If you follow this site with any regularity you are aware that I have been obsessed with Glacier Veins for months now. The band’s two songs on Relationship Goals blew me away and I was stoked to hear that a new ep was quickly on it’s way.

The friendly emo-pop sound that drove the the band’s songs on Relationship Goals is still there but it is punctuated by emo’s punk roots on Clear Your Head. That was most punctuated by Different Faces, the song the band decided to premiere first from the album. Different Faces hits you with it’s blistering pace and Malia Endres’ aggressive vocal. But the verse gives way to a beautiful chorus before ripping back into another breakneck verse. The guitar solo is fantastic. The band self describes their music as “Portland Dream Punk” and I think that perfectly captures the sound on Different Faces.

The record kicks off with New Lungs, which feels very much like the natural progression from Relationship Goal. Still very much a poppy song but you can hear that the band’s confidence and ability has progressed forward. Northern has some incredible grooves and a strong arrangement. The band has an acoustic of the track on their Bandcamp page so you can compare and hear the growth. Empty Room is an almost haunting track and you’re just waiting for the song to explode into this next level and you kind of get that satisfaction you’re waiting for. The guitars swirl in this song in a way that reminds me of Eisley’s Deep Space. Endres’ take on a fantastic growl at parts of Swallowed that really take Glacier Veins from being a pretty emo-pop band to a serious punk rock heavyweight.

This ep fantastic and Glacier Veins is a band that I will continue to tell people about until they get some more recognition! Clear Your Head is a record worth your time. 5 out of 5 Stars.

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